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Google Adwords Targeting Options Explained

Google Adwords Targeting Options Explained

Unlike “spray & pray” ads of the past, Google AdWords campaigns let you to narrow your audience down by keyword, location, language, audience and more.One of the most powerful aspects of any PPC campaign is the ability to specifically target your potential customers. In contrast to the “spray and pray” ad campaigns of the past, Google AdWords campaigns empower you to narrow your audience down by keyword, location, language, device, audience and topic. With all of these options at your fingertips, you can laser-focus your advertising on the precise audience you wish to reach.

Toward that end, here’s a summary of the full spectrum of ad-targeting you can perform with Google AdWords.

The Basics of Google Adwords

There are seven basic types of targeting that you will want to master before moving on to more advanced AdWords skills:


Target by: Keyword

AdWords offers three types of keyword matching: exact match, phrase match and broad match.

For example, if you sell ham radios and you want your ad to appear on searches for “ham radios,” but not “cheap ham radios,” choose “exact match” by placing brackets around your keywords: [ham radios].

On the other hand, if you do want your ad to appear for “cheap ham radios,” as well as “quality ham radios” and any other phrase with “ham radios” in it, then choose “phrase match” by placing quotes around your keywords: “ham radios”.

Finally, if you want to show your ad whenever anyone searches on phrases that are closely related to ham radios, then choose “broad match” by simply entering your keywords without quotes or brackets: ham radios. However, if you choose broad match, you may want to make use of the negative keywords feature just in case AdWords fails to screen out anyone searching on ham. You don’t end up attracting people who just want a sandwich.

Target by: Location

For location targeting, simply choose the location, or set of locations, on the globe where you want your ad to appear. You can also add negative locations. For example, suppose your ham radios generally sell well in New York State with the exception of New York City. AdWords location targeting allows you to display your ad to searchers outside NYC, but inside New York State.

Target by: Language

If your ad is in Spanish, you will want to reach Spanish-speaking customers. However, this is not as simple as it sounds. Google determines language based on the searcher’s Google settings, which they may not always set to the language corresponding to their searches. For this reason, Google often recommends choosing “all languages”.

Target by: Device

AdWords makes it possible to target your ad to users of a specific device, such as the iPhone. If you use this feature, you may decide to adjust your ad copy accordingly (e.g. “$50 off for iPhone users”).

Target by: Audience

AdWords Audience allows you to target customers by choosing from a preset list of categories corresponding to areas of interest, such as “Computers & Electronics“.

Target by: Topic

Simply choose the topic, or set of topics, corresponding to the kind of site your customer is most likely to visit. AdWords will then display your ad on corresponding sites within the Google Display Network.

Target by: Placements

AdWords Placements gives you granular control over where your ad will appear within the Google Display Network. For example, if you would like your ad to appear on a specific website within the network, you simply add the site as a placement.


Ready For More? Here Are Some Advanced Options

Expanded Text Ads

Based on years of research and an attempt to become increasingly mobile-friendly, Google is transitioning to a new ad format that they call “expanded text ads.” The most striking feature of the new format is the presence of two headlines, separated by a hyphen. However, there are a number of other important differences, and if you are used to the old AdWords format, you will need to become acquainted with them before AdWords phases out the old format entirely.

Price Extensions

This advanced feature allows you to extend your text ad to include a menu of purchase options. For example, if you have three types of ham radio for sale, price extensions enables you to expand your ad to include a small menu with a price and link to each radio.

Display Ads

Although display ads can use standard AdWords ad-text format, they also allow you to break the mold with rich media, including animations. Display ads do not appear on the Google Search Network, but on the Google Display Network. This achieves far greater reach, but also requires far more expertise.

Whether you’re trying to master the Google Search Network with highly targeted and enticing text ads, or trying to master the Google Display Network with rich, custom display ads, succeeding with AdWords is an ongoing challenge. Remember: you are competing with millions of other businesses, many of whom have spent many years perfecting their ad-targeting; improving their Ad Rank; and fine-tuning their bids, along with their budgets. Most of those businesses didn’t get there alone, and you shouldn’t have to either.

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Topics: Adwords / PPC

Terry Rajaram
Written by Terry Rajaram
Terry is Hyperweb’s technology expert. He likes to educate in all areas of web development through his informative blog posts. Terry writes about the ever-evolving area of SEO to keep his clients as current as possible. He likes to go for a long run to help offset his time in front of the computer.